Steve McClaren paid the price of England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 yesterday when he was unceremoniously dismissed from his position as head coach.
McClaren, who had refused to resign, was sacked less than 12 hours after a 3-2 win for Croatia at Wembley, combined with Russia's 1-0 win in Andorra, confirmed that England would miss out on a major tournament for the first time since the 1994 World Cup in the US.
An emergency meeting of the Football Association's (FA) Executive Board was wound up almost as soon as it began with McClaren's employers unanimously agreeing that they had no option but to call an end to the former Middlesbrough manager's hapless 15-month reign.
McClaren's assistant Terry Venables was also sacked as the FA pledged a "root and branch" inquest into how an England squad that can call upon some of the biggest names in world soccer had failed to get through a group that was regarded as easily negotiable when the qualifying draw was made two years ago.
FA chief executive Brian Barwick, the man who appointed McClaren and give him a four-year contract with no penalties for failure, said the board had been left with no alternative.
"In the end, not qualifying for Euro 2008 comes up short," Barwick said. "Qualification for a major tournament is probably a minimum requirement."
The FA said it would immediately begin a search for a successor to McClaren but, with England having no scheduled matches before a friendly in France in March, has set no timeframe on the selection process.
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill, who was a candidate for the position when McClaren got the job in the wake of last year's World Cup, is regarded as the best-placed candidate. Villa owner Randy Lerner has indicated that he will not stand in his way if he wants to take on the role.
The full list of the 16 nations competing
at the Euro 2008 finals after the final round of qualifiers on Wednesday and their seedings
for the draw to take place on Dec. 2 in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Pot 1 Austria (co-hosts), Switzerland (co-hosts), Greece, Netherlands
Pot 2 Croatia, Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden
Pot 3 Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain
Pot 4 Poland, France, Turkey, Russia
The FA will inevitably also look at the possibility of approaching Jose Mourinho, who has been out of work since leaving Chelsea in September, but it must be doubtful whether he would want the job and whether the governing body would be able or willing to handle such a controversial figure.